Coexistence of sleep and feeding disturbances in young children

Riva Tauman, Arie Levine, Hadas Avni, Haim Nehama, Michal Greenfeld, Yakov Sivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Behavioral insomnia and feeding difficulties are 2 prevalent conditions in healthy young children. Despite similarities in nature, etiology, prevalence, and age distribution, the association between these 2 common disorders in young children has not been examined thus far. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Children aged 6 to 36 months with either behavioral insomnia or feeding disorders were recruited. Children aged 6 to 36 months who attended the well-care clinics were recruited and served as controls. Sleep and feeding were evaluated by using a parental questionnaire. RESULTS: Six hundred eighty-one children were recruited. Fifty-eight had behavioral insomnia, 76 had feeding disorders, and 547 were controls. The mean age was 17.0 ± 7.6 months. Parents of children with feeding disorders considered their child's sleep problematic significantly more frequently compared with controls (37% vs 16%, P = .0001 [effect size (ES): 0.66]). They reported shorter nocturnal sleep duration and delayed sleep time compared with controls (536 ± 87 vs 578 ± 88 minutes, P = .0001) and 9:13 ± 0.55 PM vs 8:26 ± 1.31 PM, P = .003). Parents of children with behavioral insomnia described their child's feeding as "a problem" more frequently compared with controls (26% vs 9%, P = .001 [ES: 0.69]). They reported being more concerned about their child's growth (2.85 ± 1.1 vs 2.5 ± 1.0, P = .03) and reported higher scores of food refusal compared with controls (3.38 ± 0.54 vs 3.23 ± 0.44, P = .04). CONCLUSIONS: Problematic sleep and feeding behaviors tend to coexist in early childhood. Increased awareness of clinicians to this coexistence may allow early intervention and improve outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e615-e621
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Children
  • Feeding
  • Infancy
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep


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